Generation Why?

Not Guilty, for Trayvon Martin

Not Guilty, for Trayvon Martin

Today six mothers
sentenced a black boy to die
six months ago, for having the audacity
to be in the same place where his skin
had already been sentenced guilty.
Today familiarity was given a reprieve
on the stand. Today the final box
was painted on America’s color
coded justice system. Today
the hierarchy of who is allowed
to kill who with impunity
became a little clearer, the badge
that much more optional.
When you look in the mirror
you are either blessed
with a reflection
that you are permitted
to make eye contact with,
or one expected to avoid
eye contact & shuffle
its feet, where deference
will get you killed & defiance
will get you killed, where mirrors
are complicit in convincing some
that their children are safe,
empowered to kill
those on the other
side of the mirror
with impunity, peeking
from behind a veil of ignorance
worn only for the ignorance, knowing
exactly what & who they are.
Because safety is a zero sum
game. Because for some to feel
safe, someone else must be less safe.
Today justice went on trial & ruled itself guilty.
Today America sentenced one more potential
member of a jury of your peers to death,
soon there will be no peers left.
Today it became clear that race
trumps mother, that it’s easier
to have empathy for the mother
of a killer than the mother
of the boy he murdered,
if he looks just a little more
like you, that America has chosen
its peers & they look nothing like you.
That to be black in America is to spend
your entire life clawing & choking,
& shoveling & sifting
through the dirt of a system
set to bury you,
in a ditch, a school,
a prison, a project,
in Mississippi, Alabama,
Texas, Florida, America,
on a stoop brandishing your wallet,
on a street corner armed with Skittles
& iced tea an uneaten final meal
death penalty rubber stamped
postmortem for the crime of
in America.
The night that Trayvon Martin died
George Zimmerman
wrote his own epitaph
to be inscribed on his tombstone
& on the tombstone
of old, blind, & dying justice
so adept at peeking from behind
her crumbling mask to get a better
view from the wrong side of history:
"These assholes,
they always get away.”

—m.c. siegel


Decent Deceit

Death has a habit

of making Atheists

feel like assholes,

how ugly rationality

can seem in the face

of such beautiful

and compassionate

lies.  It’s true what

they say, there are

no Atheists in foxholes

just a lot of scared people

desperate enough to believe

in anything.  And the glaring

silence that follows. Toe tags

freshly tied around our tongues.  

This is uncomfortable. So we

provide comfort. We provide

the kindness of fiction,

the convenience of magic,

our most decent deceit.  

And I wish I could be a liar

and not know any better

at times like these.  I wish

that my hands were conduits

for prayers, but they are simply

for holding. Most days I do my best

to avoid God, but we always seem

to run into each other at funerals,

where it’s never appropriate

to ask the important questions:

Where were you when we

needed you?  Death’s constant

accomplice, always showing up

after the fact, like some transparent

Clark Kent.  And I’m the character

that knows his secret but no one

wants to hear it, so I embrace

the silence, able to offer nothing

but a hand to hold.  I may be

a bad person, but it’s not because

I don’t believe in God.  It’s because

I care more about the truth

than I should about people, can’t

muster a mythical afterlife, provide

odds on whether or not someone is

actually in a better place, not even

a nice uplifting anecdote.  I’m not

good at this, not equipped to sooth

and bandage this gaping wound,

can’t even dress it up in Sunday

finest so we can lay it finally to rest. 

All I can say is that I’m sorry, for more

things than you can possibly know. 

But mainly because I am still here

and I have nothing more to offer,

and I want so badly to be that liar

capable of giving you everything

you deserve, our most beautiful

and magical and kind and decent


—M.C. Siegel


Between 2008 And 2010, 30 Big Corporations Spent More Lobbying Washington Than They Paid In Income Taxes

So they’re paying more in state sanctioned bribes than they are in taxes. Yeah, a slight tax increase is definitely gonna break the bank for the poor job creators.  Maybe that’s why Republicans don’t want a tax increase.  It takes money out of their pockets in the form of campaign contributions, and puts it into America’s pocket in the form of taxes.  Clearly, we can’t have that.

Republicans And Business Groups Unable To Find One ‘Job Creator’ Who Opposes A Tax On Millionaires

Letter to My Unborn Child

The prescription for my DNA

dispensed over a counter

in pills that dissolve bitter like hope,

I fear that I will leave you drugged,

without the health care needed to pay the bills,

that the cost of  your youth will be paid in dreams,

your regrets held in a drawer with receipts

that register in cold eyes

the price you have paid for adulthood.

I fear blood infected by angels and devils,

the tug-of-war of unrelenting opponents that pull upon your veins.

I fear that these childhood friends will abandon you

after kissing your cradles with the promise of hope

that you will wake up with my DNA caught in your throat,

screaming that you never asked to be born in the first place

that you will have no need to face a world

that so desperately needs to meet you,

sleeping on stranger’s couches instead of at home,

tempting fate like newly formed fingers

cradling the singed wicks of firecrackers.


I fear that my lessons in living

will be taught in a dialect

of psycho-babble and coping mechanisms:

Step 1- breathe into a paper bag

            of malt liquor

Step 2- exhale the remains

            of an unfinished cigarette

Step 3- find a bed messy enough not to notice

            when you come

            and when you go


I fear that my love for you won’t be enough

to stave off my addictions, that my love for you

won’t be enough to prevent your succumbing to your own,

I fear buds stored like bullets in chambers of pipes

the romance of a polluted city street you see in my eyes,

noses powdered with the coked-up rhythm of a line dance,

veins that listen to needles,

spinning tracks to the beat of a man who plays the dirty spoons,

I fear the alleyways, the filthy bathrooms that will constantly call your name,

the sleepless nights, the shivering, the wondering

where you will sleep tomorrow,

the darkness of nights spent waiting for the dawn.


I fear that you, my children will consume women like narcotic,

men like—me, swallowing a horizon like a barbiturate

to lull a morning  soul to sleep,

coffee syntax dribbling over teeth

stained the color of insomnia

when sunlight through the window

tastes like a mint on your pillow

when the six a.m. news sounds like a lullaby

and the prospect of dreams

feels better then sex.


I fear that you,

my children, will fall prey to the insanity of normalcy

that keeps my pen from moving, that you will spend

your entire life striving to be perfect, otherwise

you will be perfect,

I fear a time

when lovers will seem stranger than strangers

when the loneliness of a crowd will echo louder

than an empty room.


I fear that the day will come—

the shattering of a glass

that was once half full

when God is not enough,

and you have had enough, a day

when you measure your patience in calibers,

contemplating the hard comfort of a bullet,

the soft pillow of exploded expectations, feathers

falling to the floor in time-lapsed frames

that some call days. I know this place too well.

In this place your nights battle your mornings,

warning signs dig into punctured arms and wrists

are scratched like a suicide note on a prison wall,

where the letters haphazardly prescribed onto bottles

can fill a future like a medicine cabinet.


and I know this place too well.


When I say that I fear bringing children into a world like this,

I often wonder if I don’t mean a world where I am your father.


The first time that I had her

on her father’s bed

she feared that I would break her

like an egg, cracked and poured

and left only a shell. 

I feared that I would break her,

like water.  The look in her eyes rippling

with the distant threat of flood,

and all that I could offer to dike her dam

to calm those salty waters threatening to wash

over her wounds, was a backwashed tide

of carefully prescribed prayers.  The kind

that teenage boys are so adept at piecing together.

Each fingered rosary crashing from my lip like sedative. 

Each thrusting hallelujah of I love you threatening to collapse

those fragile walls, causing them to crumble in upon themselves,

like an overly eager Joshua fumbling with my trumpet. 

My instrumental played over the bass line of her

rhythmic grunt.  Hearing in those moans,

the prehistoric equivalent of what the word delicate

would one day become.  This Pentecostal call and response

filling the bedroom like one of those recordings of waves crashing. 

This droning consistency’s lull the next best thing to absence,

to silence, to the wont of nothing.  My mouth reeking

of the sea’s salty spray.  White noise soothing

what I had been taught would be the pain of this sex. 

This clumsy unfolding.  This tattered origami slowly ripped apart

as it folds back upon itself, as it’s worn too thin and inevitably torn

This lamb led to slaughter by one of her own.  This lamb led to slaughter

by a butcher cloaked in wool.  Her father’s black light

illuminated the room like a crime scene.  Shocked condom

spectators mouthed their silent disbelief.  The sirens

revolving in her eyes.  The cross trembling on the bedpost.  We knew

that once we acquired a taste for this we could never go back.  We knew

that it was only our blind unwillingness to look away

that kept this from being a crime.  We knew

that there is only the thinnest of lines

between the most tender of sacraments

and double homicide.  We knew

that her father would not soon

be home.

—M.C. Siegel

Ron Paul: He’ll Haunt Your Prostate.

The Apple and The Fall

The first time we met

I knew you were a sadist.


It was the way the magnifying glass of your gaze

burnt the wings off of the butterflies in my stomach.


I can’t blame you for the times

when your kiss tastes like anesthetic


or myself for expecting this sacrament

to be flavored any differently.


At 15, when my anti-depressants

started to work I reported it to my doctor


as a side effect.  I’ve never felt

comfortable with what some people call happiness,


but get giddy and nostalgic

recollecting my own self-destruction,


name dropping overdoses

and quoting my favorite suicide notes verbatim.


I’ve played Russian roulette with a future full of empties

and prayed that no one would see through the bluff—


pulled the trigger like some B-movie version of God

who’s already read the script, but doesn’t know


that his script is written into someone else’s.

I’ve pushed the hands of time


thinking they might

start pushing back.


Until I realized

that I was the clock—


a grave face covered in dirt, two clean hands

sifting through stolen time I never thought I’d live


long enough to serve.  Like a criminal

who never expected to get caught,


I thought I was immune to gravity,

growing sicker by the day,


deliriously babbling

about the apple and the fall.


Somewhere outside

of Eden I realized that


if freedom is just another word

for nothing left to lose, then I am a slave


to a smile, my mouth shackled

to the forecast of your mood,


too often weathering each kiss

like small talk on a gorgeous day,


preoccupied with a phantom

limb I never lost.  The invisible man


better watch his back

because organ donors are scarce,


death travels light, and if I can find him

before he finds me I’m plotting


to steal away his scythe, hack off an arm, and see

if that can finally teach me how to hold you.


I’ve been drinking all night,

liquoring up this gorgeous, confused


moment of uncertainty, wondering

if the three of us can ever fit in the same bed.


Once upon-a-times begin a story

I’m not ready to tell.  Every story begins


a Happily-ever-after.  I’ve since come

to know you too well, can smell the non-fiction


on your breath.  You’ve got a jaw line

like a plotline drawn by M.C. Escher


a mouth full of stairs

that lead to nowhere.


I’ve got a fear of heights, so maybe

we can meet in the middle.  I’m starting


to fall for you.  The ink’s starting to smear

onto to the sheets, I can’t sleep, so I’m up


watching some late night B-Movie,

which, come morning, will turn out to be a dream. 


In the dream,

you’re a star,


shining through a magnifying glass

burning the wings off of the butterflies


in my stomach, so if I fall asleep, or start to think

that this is just a dream, just pinch me as hard as you can.


I promise I’ll try to wake up.  Because the way

you make me hurt


feels good.

—M.C. Siegel